Hearing no can feel embarrassing.
Maybe I shouldn’t have asked? Do they hate me now? Should I just drink rat poison?
You want the other party accept a no and feel good.
(You don’t want them to feel bad about you or cuz of you).
They Need to Save Face: Help Them!
Here's my rule: "No to your idea. Yes to you."
You are amazing. Unfortunately, it’s not the right timing for me. You know I have such respect for you. This isn’t the right deal for me. It has been such a pleasure working here. At the same time, I’m ready to challenge myself in new ways.
Everything is less intense with a sense of humor.
“You know I’d absolutely love to bake cookies all night for the Charity Bake Off; unfortunately, it would interrupt my exciting plans of having a panic attack and eating four bags of Cheetos with no pants on.”
These lines are golden!
Unfortunately, that doesn’t work for me
I am not interested at the moment, but thank you
I would love to help you out, but I already made commitments to other ______________ (coworkers, friends, clients, etc.)
I appreciate you thinking of me and I’m honoured by the request. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to give this my best right now.
I would love to help you out, but given my schedule, it doesn’t seem feasible/ doable for me right now
Unfortunately, I’m swamped right now
I’m not qualified to ______________, but you may want to ask _____________
At this point, I’m maxed out
It wouldn’t be right for me to take this on now
I would have to sacrifice ______________ to take on this obligation
I’m currently working on ________, ___________, and __________, so I won’t be able to ___________________
Remember to Try to Offer Something Else
You may want to ask ______________ who may have the time to help you/ participate/ the necessary expertise
I’d recommend you reach out to _________________
If something opens up, I’ll let you know
If anything changes, I’ll let you know
If I think of someone who might be helpful to you, I’ll give you a shout
Here’s your four-part formula for saying “no.”
1) Kindly thank the person. Show appreciation. Thank you for your request.
2) Provide your honest answer. Unfortunately it doesn’t work for me.
3) Say thank you. I really appreciate it.
4) Offer alternatives and give encouraging words to the person. You’ll be able to do it. You’re so good at this. I might also refer you to XYZ person…
“You were kind to think of me as someone you’d feel is a good fit to help you, Chris. I’m not able to now because I am swamped with assignments this week. Thank you though, and I know you’ll get it done; you are such a hard worker.”
A Note on Apologies
You might notice that there are no apologies in any of the above examples. That’s because you have no reason to apologize. You didn’t do anything wrong.
Pair A No With 1-2 Good Alternatives
Really awesome idea! I’m not the best person to help with this; I’m going to give you the names of 2 people who might be more aligned with this project!
Being genuinely useful helps. This said, not everyone’s project has to become your project.
And as they say “Poor planning on your part does not necessitate an emergency on mine.”
The other person should leave your “no” feeling happy, saying thank you, liking and respecting you more.
Nice and assertive are NOT opposites. Don't forget that.
You can be nice and say no.
You can do it!